Monday, July 20, 2015

Gravel Road Adventure

Chip seal outta town to the West
Sunday I planned on getting out there one last time before the Standard Rando had to go back to the mothership. I was thinking I'd be doing the "Williamsburg Chuch Loop" I did back a year ago, I think it was. So I had to go down to Ranchero Road, hang a right, and head out on some chip seal till I got far enough away from those escaping the city that bring some city with them that the country was actually allowed back in again and I could be on gravel roads. I've never quite figured out how these folks think that paving the roads in front of their dwellings isn't going to fundamentally change their "country" experiences. It may take five to ten years, but eventually, they are living in the city again, whether or not they understand that. Anyway...... Another rant for another time.

So, I got out on gravel eventually and the day was rather good. Maybe the best day of Summer so far? I would dare to say that it was so. Light breezes, lower humidity, and the Sun was reigned in enough so that you didn't feel like you were under an intense heat lamp. Even the gravel was mostly okay. It doesn't get much better than it was Sunday.

The corn is maturing at an alarming rate. Is it all this genetically modified stuff? Maybe so....

Barns For Jason
Zion Lutheran Church
As I was riding along, I was trying to recall that ride I had about a year ago. Yes.....I could have gotten a map, or even looked at one before leaving, but what is the fun in that? I mean, this is Iowa, what could go wrong, right?

Well, I was trying to avoid a mile stretch of pavement I was obliged to take the last time I was out this way. I thought I had to turn North, which was correct, but I couldn't recall exactly when I needed to do that. By the lay of the land, I thought that X Avenue looked like a good choice, so I took that and headed up a slight incline toward the crest of a hill which I could not see anything beyond.

Once I crested that hill, about a quarter of a mile into X Avenue, I saw that I had likely made a mistake. It looked as though I was going to cross over Highway 20 to the North, and that wasn't at all the road I wanted to be going toward. I was looking for a Westward road South of Highway 20, but it appeared that I had chosen to turn North too soon. I have an unwritten rule when I ride alone. "Always forward, never retrace your route." It's just part of the game I play when I ride alone in new territory. So, I was disappointed that now my Williamsburg idea was out the window, but hey! Now I could do something different, right? So I plodded ahead, not knowing exactly how my day was going to go at this point.

Roadside treasure!
I pondered various route options in my head as I was climbing a hill, and then something caught my eye suddenly. A bright green thing. I wheeled around, and stopped, then spied the thing. A green bottle, just sitting in the road. Weird! I went to it and examined it. The bottle wasn't a name brand I recognized, but it was clearly a knock-off of a Nalgene bottle. It was almost empty, in great condition, and too good to leave behind. But where to stow it?

I didn't have a frame bag, or anything big enough to stuff it in. Wait a minute! A jersey pocket! A little rearranging and I could take it with me. I grabbed some stuff out of my leftside jersey pocket. One of the things was my credit card/ID holder. I dropped it and it yard-saled its contents all over the gravel. Lucky for me the wind wasn't whipping at 25mph! I got that all under controll, stuffed the big green jug in my pocket, and off I went.

It was just over that hill when I saw a road going toward the West! Woo Hoo! I was stoked that maybe the route was back on again. I went another mile and a half to a nother "T" intersection, but the road I ran into did go South a ways, that was clear. Maybe I could just go a mile South, then West and on my merry way again? I was hopeful that I could do this, but after about another half a mile, I saw a dreaded "Road Closed" sign. An old one at that. Now I know that "road closed" can mean one thing for cars, and quite another for bikes, so I went up the hill, then I saw it. The road dramatically narrowed at the point where it passed between two houses and went to a rubble filled two track. This wasn't looking particularly good.

The "road" petered out into a farmer's field on the other side.
I rode down a short, steep bit of two-track to a stream. Hmm...... The wading wasn't deterring me from moving onward, but the fact that the road went to nothing and disappeared into a field on the other side was bad. I wasn't about trespassing this day. So, I had to swallow my pride, turn back, and go back the way I had just come.

I didn't go back East at the corner, but I did go North and over Highway 20. The dream of the Williamsburg ride was going to have to wait for another attempt. I had learned a lot though. I knew the dead ends now. So, up and over and then a half mile East on old 20 to W Avenue and back North again to find 150th Street and a chance to pass through Fredsville again.

The church at Fredsville
Fredsville..... I'm not sure who Fred was, but this is the "ville" that now bears his name. It is pretty much just a big ol' Lutheran church with a massive cemetery and a lot of pavement. There are a few nice homes just East of the church grounds which, I suppose, constitute Fredsville's only residents. The church marks the Easternmost church of seven that are on 150th Street going all the way across Grundy County into Hardin County. That's got to be some kind of record for rural churches. This is another ride I must do again at some point- The 150th to my Mom's house ride. Maybe this Fall.......

I continued East back towards Cedar Falls and as I went I remembered that I needed to grab a few shots of the Standard Rando for my review, so I hunted for a likely spot. It didn't take long for such a spot to present itself. This year the ditch flowers are spectacular, so I ended up with a patch of tiger lilies as my backdrop. The shots came out great, so then it was time to remount and head back to town.

I eventually was obliged to use the excellent bike path network we have here in Waterloo-Cedar Falls which got me to my mainline through the city which is Grand Boulevard to the Trolley Car Trail and then up through a Waterloo neighborhood that parallels the expressway. This gets me to within a mile of the house and then I just use my commuting route to get to my door.

Just over three hours. I'll take it. Next week is the GTDRI and I will try one more ride before I take it easy and rest up before the big dance on Saturday.

1 comment:

Jim Mearkle said...

Speaking of roads petering out and getting closed, I was wondering what will happen to the roads in your state. Your DOT commissioner has stated the state highway system is too big and will have to shrink. I don't know if that means highways will get turned over to the counties, or abandoned altogether or what.

Anyway, I hope for your sake that some get de-paved.